Acronyms are some of my favorite writing exercises.
I am repeatedly impressed with the amount and quality of helpful information that can surface through the use of acronyms.
Acronyms are helpful when you get stuck.
They are also particularly helpful when addressing a topic head-on or “with logic” is getting you nowhere. Sometimes, it is better to take a more gentle, roundabout, less direct approach.
Let the information and feelings surface on their own without having to break the no-talk rules that are often so deeply embedded within.
Acronyms are particularly helpful when you just can’t quite figure out how to say what is going on for you. Or, when the parts inside are struggling with whether to tell you or not, and they don’t want to say it directly.
Acronyms are a creative way of “telling without telling.”
1. Pick any word or phrase
Pick any word or phrase or theme that describes how you feeling or what you are thinking at that moment. For example:
- What’s bothering me today?
- Upset about school
- Angry with my boss
- Blocked feelings
- I am remembering ________.
- Nights at that house
- Visits from Ted
- What about my relationship with _________.
- My mother is stupid
- Afternoons with Suzie
- Uncle Sam is weird
- How would I describe how I feel today?
- Frustrated and mad
- Totally numb
- Scared of everything
- I keep thinking about __________.
- Voices I hear
- Seeing others inside
- My puppy Patches
2. Write this word or phrase vertically on the page.
As you think of that theme, take one letter at a time, and write down the first word or phrase that you think of that starts with that particular letter. Again, there is no right or wrong, just write down the words that come to mind as you think about your theme word. If you immediately think of more than one word for any particular letter, you can write down both words if you want to.
If you get stuck on a letter that is difficult, you can adjust the exercise however you see fit. The easiest option is to turn the difficult letter into any “miscellaneous” letter of your choice, allowing you to fill that spot in with any words that come to mind about your theme.
Once you have completed the list of words for your acronym, read through what you have written.
3. Combine the words into sentences.
Take this writing exercise a step further by using that same list of words as parts of a paragraph. The words can be used in any order in combination with as many other words as needed to complete your paragraph.
Read through your paragraph. Is there a particular phrase, or word that stands out to you? Again, there is no right or wrong answer. Pick a word or phrase that either needs further explanation, or seems to summarize your thoughts the best, or just “hits you” as important.
4. Repeat, with the next key phrase.
Using this new word or phrase, start the exercise again.
Repeat this process as many times as necessary – with a new acronym, a new list of words, a new summary paragraph.
You can repeat this process again and again because each new acronym will lead to greater understanding of the issue at hand.
Example of Acronym Writing:
Reaching the inside is not as hard as you might think. Yes, they have experienced terrible things that no one should ever have to endure. They need reassurance that they will never have to do that yucky stuff ever again. Let each part of you live a safe life.
R real scared
C crying, comfort
I understand that everybody feels real scared about writing, and talking, and telling.
It is important to know the reality of what has happened so you can learn how to become safe. It is okay now for each of the child parts to have comfort. They are still crying because they have been hurt again and again. They need to know they can always be safe. I am here to help you find safety. Nobody deserves to be hurt, not even the inside parts that are named Nobody.
Pick the word or phrase that sticks out for you in this second paragraph.
Do a third acronym with those words, then a fourth acronym, then a fifth, etc.
Keep going until you have reached some answers to the words and feelings you were searching for.
I hope these ideas help!
I wish you the very best in your writing and healing journey!
K — Keep on working on progress!
A — Ask inside! They will know lots of Answers!
T — Talk to your insiders, and I hope you Trust your Therapist Too.
H — Hi Hi Hi Hi Hi and I Hope this Helps you!
Y — YOU are important to me, and thank YOU for being here!
Copyright © 2008-2020 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
I am very very ascared now. It be very verydark. I am be very very very sleepy. Kat has claws on the feet.
I am not a robot. I am not a robot. Why are we not robots.
I posted that I am struggling with my Bday this coming week. I have for years. I don’t know why but now that we know I am DID, I might have more answers. So much of my life makes more sense now.
I was pointed to this exercise in the forum to try for the word “B I R T H D A Y.” There is not a lot of communication inside yet but this may be a start. Thanks for this post.
Years ago there were times I wasn’t able to speak. I’m guessing this exercise might help that insider find their voice even just starting with the alphabet like you say since I don’t have a name.
I am also glad to find this page. Thanks for this index. It’s great since you have written so much over the years. I have also noticed there are no dates on the posts themselves. I’m always afraid I am responding to a really old post. And I’m guessing not showing dates, stops us from having to think about if “this post” is “too old” to respond to. I appreciate the thought you put into things. OR maybe it just helps me that way.
Thanks, Kathy and all of DD.com
Thank you for this article.
I have been suffering this year. I think I am in a cult that causes DID and have been trying to meet my handler to learn the truth, but my insiders won’t let me meet him. Worse, they are switching me whenever he talks to me so i can never hear what he says, and telling him that I, the dayself, am one of them who has already talked to him but I’m just pretending I haven’t for a story I am creating. Meanwhile they are trying to convince me I have schizophrenia instead of DID. Instead of talking to me directly I usually just hear them talk about me in the 3rd person and when I try to talk to them they have said things like, “Doesn’t she realize we can only talk to her when we are lying to her?” I have also heard them say “If we can get her to accept that it is schizophrenia everything will be okay.” Thinking I had schizophrenia instead of DID would NOT make me feel okay at all. That would make everything worse. They are lying to me LOTS and making me look stupid when I act on their lies. DID advice I read said to trust your insiders and I’m trying but I feel like a gullible fool getting burned over and over.
I was very high functioning before this conflict started racheting up but now I feel I am failing in every way. My health, emotional stability, mental stability, and spirituality have all degraded immensely this year. I’m scared I’m going to lose my job. I used to be able to handle it fine and KNOW I could handle it again if I could communicate with my insiders but my attempts at winning them over just seem to make them more committed to making me think I’m insane. I’m starting to cry at work even though I went decades without ever crying at all!
For the past couple months, every day I have been repeating the Army’s Survival acronym which is included in the illustrations above to try to help me cope. I will try your other acronym suggestions and the collage suggestion to see if i can get some communication going that way, because trying to communicate directly with myself seems to be making everything worse but I NEED to find some way to communicate with myself. Thank you so much for this suggestion.
I can’t talk. I can’t speak. There is so much inside so many thoughts. Where do I begin and will it ever end ? I open my mouth but I can’t put the words together. I can’t speak. I can’t form sentences. I can’t put them together to have any meaning to convey an idea, concept, explanation. I’m lost. It’s like I’m completely blocked. I’m so lost.
I hate the way I live. I’m trapped and can’t get out. Living with myself is torture.
There is to much inside. It’s like a never ending remember. Everything and everyone sits and remains in the dark.
There IS another inside. It gets very loud and I wish my body would just burst open. I have a love hate relationship with the night. How much longer must I endure this?
Its always the same even though it was another and another. I’m pretty sure my dad cursed me, though it’s only bits I remember.
He stabbed me then died. The knife is still in. It eats me up inside. It’s been so long now and outside people never see that he still holds the knife and twists it from wherever he be.
I wish someone would care. We can’t carry on alone. We need help. It’s so hard to cope. Life is so dull I’m never any fun. No one knows there’s an us I’m the only one. I feel so separated from every one and thing around. I’m sure I don’t belong here. Especially since it’s been so hard to just survive. I’m already dead to everyone definitely not full of life.
It’s so lonely living my life. Only now do I see you can hit rock bottom twice. I have to get answers and make myself feel safe. To me it seems urgent but I can’t make anyone see. Tonight I wish someone would see we are “we”.
does this look right?
how would I describe how i feel today?
disappointed, fractured, sorry
What about my relationship with Charlie?
hurt, careful, snuggled
I am remebering what it sounded like when he cried and how he kept pulling at his hand and arm to make the pain stop.
I keep thinking about what I should have done differently.
It feels like I am in the middle of the ocean drifting in intense emotions, going under, kicking fighting to be on top, lost to those around me. The training is not working.
With the week being almost gone, I work to ignite my passion for my insiders. i don’t understand them. I want to be good, protect them, give good touch. BUt I don’t believe they are there. They can be forgotten, if they ever existed to begin with. They are nothing to me. They try to hit rex and show me gory stuff that isn’t real. It is an insult to my intelligence to continue believing in them.
E-eager to please
That is all I did tonight. I don’t know if it was right. I hope I don’t offend anyone. Don’t know what to think of what I wrote.
Kathy Broady says
Yes, you’ve got the idea of writing in acronyms. You are following the process — just keep going with it. You can start with any words that feel suited for your day, or for how your feeling, or fit what you are thinking about. My article gave some examples of topics to ask yourself, if you needed a starting place, but any word – any theme – any name – any phrase could be used. For that matter, you could just use the alphabet, lol. That would be a long acronym, but it could be a starting place if you didn’t have one.
The name acronym is just the name of that type of “poetry” – or writing. It’s a funny word, but as far as I know, it’s just the name of the writing style.
So I can see that one side of your system worked on the acronyms you posted above. Do you see how much those paragraphs fit the thinking patterns of the part of you that wrote it?? I bet if some of your insiders used the very same words as you used — guilt, fighting, disbelief — they would come up with very different words / paragraphs. If you are up to that – try it. Let them have a chance to work this way as well. You’ll see a difference — I would bet on it. 🙂
A question for you to think about: what makes it so very hard to accept that you have insiders and that you are DID? I can say that I’ve had enough interaction with you to know that you are DID. I don’t have any doubt about it. Maybe do more writing – acronyms, etc – about the various reasons why this is so hard for you….. It must mean something significant….
I’m glad to see you are taking these ideas and working with them. Excellent! Keep working at it.
how do you come up with the acronym? (does that stand for something?)
Where did you get the questions at the beginning of the post? How did you come up with the questions? Are they part of the acronym processing?
Maybe I am making this harder than it really is. I do that and I am sorry.
Just wanted to note that sometimes you won’t get to a point of understanding with what you have written, but I think that’s ok because maybe someone else understands, or feels better to get it out, and you will probably understand later when you are more ready.